Dominican Pilgrimage to Walsingham
On the right is the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham which was carved in the Marian Year of 1954 and venerated by Pope John Paul II when he visited England in 1982. The original statue was taken from the Augustinian Priory of Walsingham in 1538 and burnt by the 'Reformers'.
The Symbolism of this statue of is as follows:
The Saxon crown and throne portray Mary as Queen;
The three-fold lily symbolizes virginity and purity;
The pillars of the throne represent the Church;
The seven rings on the pillars stand for the seven gifts of the Spirit.
The statue is enshrined in the 14th-century Slipper Chapel (below) which is part of the Catholic Shrine and one of the few surviving buildings from the medieval complex. Originally pilgrims took off their shoes here and walked the Holy Mile into the village to visit the Priory.
The Slipper Chapel is a tranquil place for prayer and contemplation; one lights a candle here and places a petition before Our Lady. Mass was celebrated in the modern Reconciliation Chapel, followed by a packed lunch to fortify us for the Procession!
Assembling in the gentle rain outside the Reconciliation Chapel (below), we set out down the Holy Mile to Walsingham. I don't think any of us were discalced but there was a sense of prayer as we said the Rosary and sang Marian hymns for the entire duration of the Procession into the village.
The Procession took us down a quiet country lane, past the ruins of the Franciscan Friary and into the village square (below), near the Catholic church which is being reconstructed. Here, we rested the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham and prayed the 'Hail, Holy Queen'.
After the wet and windy walk, we were refreshed with tea and some finger foods and dashed off to visit the Anglican Shrine which has to be seen to be believed! It recreates the look of the medieval pilgrimage centre, and has a replica of the Holy House within the church. This is Anglo-Catholicism at its utmost and when we were there, 'Benediction' was being performed in the main body of the church. Below is the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham within the Holy House of the Anglican Shrine:
Below, I am standing in front of the gate house of the Augustinian Priory of Walsingham where the original Holy House and Shrine once stood. This is basically one of the few remnants of the medieval Priory and Shrine.
We made our way back to the Catholic Shrine and sang Vespers coram Sanctissimum, followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. It was a wonderful way to end a beautiful pilgrimage to Our Lady's National Shrine in England. The painting below shows Our Lady of Walsingham as the heart of the devotion of the English saints of old and long may Our Lady and this holy place be a focus for the English saints of this generation too! May she obtain for our Dominican Order and Province every grace and blessing and grant us increase in number, holiness, and vigour.
"O Alone of all women, Mother and Virgin, Mother most happy, Virgin must pure, now we, sinful as we are, come to see thee who art all pure; we salute thee; we honour thee as how we may with our humble offerings; may thy Son grant us, that imitating thy most holy manners, we also, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, may deserve spiritually to conceive the Lord Jesus in our inmost soul, and once conceived never to lose him. Amen."
- A pilgrim's prayer composed by Erasmus when he visited Walsingham in 1511.